NewsMissoula County


University of Montana program helping military veterans

Posted at 9:46 AM, Oct 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-24 11:46:43-04

MISSOULA - One in ten Montanans are veterans and the University of Montana reports it's home to 1,400 military-affiliated students.

That's why UM is launching a new service on campus, to help students receive health care, and take advantage of their Veterans Affairs benefits.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” said UM student Tanner Liermann who added that getting out of the military and starting college wasn't always a smooth transition.

“It’s been weird, I feel like I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’ve grown up. If that makes any sense,” Liermann said.

After serving in the Marine Corps, he came to the University of Montana to study Wildlife Biology.

But when he got here, "I didn't even come to the office until like the second or third month."

He didn't get connected to services right away,” kind of feeling like we don't deserve it."

Director Patrick Beckwith says the UM Military and Veteran Services office has received similar feedback from other students.

"What we find is some people just don't use their benefits, such as health benefits, because it's just difficult,” Beckwith told MTN News. “It's just another thing they have to fit in to the day."

The newly launched Montana Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS) Program aims to make it easier for students to receive health care, and use their benefits.

"The intent here is to bring resources where customers actually are,” Beckwith said about a space that has been turned into a telehealth center.

"Somebody can essentially arrive and access the room and the platform,” Beckwith continued. “The only intervention from somebody in our office is making sure the room is available and unlocked and the equipment is up and running."

People can make an appointment online and see a provider as early as November. "In between classes, or on your lunch break, you can go somewhere that's in person and at least get some face time with someone,” Liermann said.

The service is available for veterans on campus, and anyone on campus with qualifying benefits, like spouses and dependents. "I think it's very important for other veterans to understand, hey, you do deserve this, this was something that was designed for us,” Liermann said.

“Veterans have a lot to contribute to society, there's just a ton of potential there, and if we ensure that we maintain our minds in our bodies where we’re gonna be capable of sustaining that effort,” Beckwith concluded.